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Rectal Prolapse vs Hemorrhoids?

What’s the Difference Between Rectal Prolapse vs. Hemorrhoids?

Though about 75% of adults in America will have hemorrhoids at some point in their lives, discomfort in the anal region doesn’t always guarantee your doctor will diagnose you with hemorrhoids. A rectal prolapse, though less common, can actually cause symptoms similar to hemorrhoids, including anal pain, an itchy feeling around the anus, and blood in stools. If you’re feeling any of these symptoms, it’s important to understand the signs of a rectal prolapse so that you can seek the appropriate treatment.

A rectal prolapse and the more common prolapsed hemorrhoid have some similarities. In both cases, tissue from within the rectum begins to protrude outside of the anus. When veins within the rectum become dilated, an internal hemorrhoid can form and begin to protrude – causing a bleeding mass of swollen tissue that can become increasingly difficult to push back in. Rectal prolapse however, happens when the rectal wall protrudes through the anus (though there are varying degrees). This protrusion can happen during bowel movements, but is also seen in those individuals with weak pelvic muscle tone and/or weak internal tissue that is easily loosened.

Symptoms that are specific to rectal prolapse and not usually present in hemorrhoid cases include:

  • Incontinence or leakage of stool.
  • A feeling of fullness in your bowels.
  • Prolapsed tissue that has the appearance of concentric circles.

Differences in the Advanced Stages of Rectal Prolapse vs. Hemorrhoids:

While hemorrhoids in the advanced stages will become harder and more painful, a rectal prolapse in its most advanced stage is called a complete prolapse. This occurs when the rectum’s sleeve turns inside out and remains outside the body. Advanced stages of these conditions are very rare but can still be easily treated with surgery.

Still, even mild rectal discomfort can be the sign of any number of conditions, so it’s important to get a professional diagnosis from a physician. Our qualified CRH partner doctors have helped many people just like you find long-lasting relief from all kinds of rectal conditions. Contact a CRH O’Regan doctor near you for more information about hemorrhoids, rectal prolapse, and much more.